Trivialising Pain

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Isn’t it amazing how when you go through challenges in life you feel as though it’s the end of the road for you and you just wanna give up? You literally see your world collapsing from all angles and caving in on you. You haven’t lived if you haven’t been in that season.

I have heard many people say things like “Be strong”, “Trust in the Lord” or “Akasiniki okungaphezulu kwamandla ethu”, meaning – He (God) will never give you more than you can bear. I have also been on the receiving end of words like “You need to toughen up”, or “there’re people going through far worse than you – life is unfair, deal with it”.

But reality is, we deal with our hurtful places in different ways. What might seem like a minor issue for one might be a matter of life and death for the other.

Why am I writing to you in this manner today? Simply to sensitise ourselves to the reality that as people we are neither wired the same nor do we have the same grace in dealing with issues that affect our core being.

I have recently made this illustrative explanation to a friend of mine that;
when one has accidentally hurt their big toe and let’s out an awful lamentation out of the excruciating pain that they may be feeling. It is not your job to trivialise their pain and tell them to deal with it or grow up.

You should not say: “Usungaze ukhale kangaka ngento encane kanje” (such a small issue doesn’t warrant a loud cry).

Firstly, our reactions to painful stimuli are never the same.
For all you know, that person might be feeling the intensity of the sting because, unbeknownst to you that is not all the pain they are crying about. There is potentially more to it than meets the eye.
They could possibly have stepped on alot of thorny bushes and other sharp objects along the way, that combined, have severely hurt their entire foot and set it on fire. But they had kept going, limping on until the pain struck their big toe, which for them was the final straw. Hence the outcry.

Trivalising the pain of another or telling someone to toughen up because to you, their area of pain is nothing to cry about is inhumane to say the least. Never jump to conclusions about what people say hurts them and conclude that they are cry babies.

Make an attempt to find out what other underlying issues might exist, that had gotten them to that point of such hopelessness. You’d be surprised that more often than not, there has been a series of “minor cuts and bruises” that have culminated into the heart-wrenching pain they may be feeling now.

In a quest to be there for someone, quit attempting to convince them that whatever it is that they say is hurting them is not a big deal. You cannot and should not invalidate people’s pain based on your own ability to deal with the same or similar issues better. Receive their hurtful places genuinely and with the sensitivity it deserves.

We could achieve avlot more with just the reception of the pain of another as is, without attempts to water it down in some way. There after, seeking possible means to assist them in their healing process. It is never our prerogative to say what is classified as minor or major pain. Ours is to help heal with love and sincerity of heart.


We cannot compare wounds and discuss who has been through the most and thus deserves more sympathy than the other. Point of the matter is, pain is pain, irrespective of how insignificant it may seem to another. We are all a little broken and a little bruises, all we need is just a little patience from our fellow imperfect mortals. Quit telling people they’re weak when they cry out for help.

Finaly, Daniel Goleman has written these words: “True compassion means not only feeling another’s pain but also being moved to help relieve it.”

May we be relievers of each others’ pain more than we question it’s validity.

Yours in ✍🏾,
Nondumiso

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2 Comments on “Trivialising Pain

  1. Mhhh. You know pain is pain regardless of the source because it all goes to the heart. And nobody has the right to dictate how you should be handling pain whether it small or big…

  2. So true Nondu, we all deal with life differently so we should make more of an effort towards assisting each other than judging and shaming each other – I really enjoy your work, well done 👏🏾

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